Music producers sometimes get criticised for deserting their true sound for financial gains, but there are some artists who stay true to their beliefs throughout their entire career.
Some artists like Random Movement.
The American producer’s style, sound and production quality has never waned or kowtowed to trend during his ten-year-plus tenure. He’s provided us with relentless reams of uplifting releases, all the while remaining one of the most down-to-earth figures in the scene.
Adding another string to his bow… He’s just mixed the latest installment on Liquid V; a 25 track compilation album showcasing the finest in liquid drum & bass, old and new. It’s an album that displays his talents as both a DJ and producer, with two of his own tracks featuring on the LP.
“It was an honour to mix this compilation and to have two of my own tracks on it was wicked,” he says. “Bryan picked all the songs he wanted featured on the album and then remastered a lot of the older ones and man do they sound good! I love it when an old Calibre tune sounds like a new Calibre tune. It really was a treat to do this mix.”
Mixing duties aside, we caught up with the man formally known as Michael to discuss what he’s been up to, what he’s got planned and the current state of the industry.
The way I’m going to stay at the top of my game is that I’m not, and that’s fact. As quickly as a rocket ship blasts into space, just as quickly it will fall back down again. That’s the nature of music and art and I accept it. I’m always going to do what I do, I don’t care where I’m standing in the food-chain, I just keep my head down and I write music.
Good morning! So you’re in Florida at the moment. Are you having some time off?
Hey man! I’m great thanks. Yep, I’m in central Florida in between two villages and we’re surrounded by lakes, it’s just beautiful – a poor man’s paradise. I can always call it time off down here even when it’s not, as that’s what it feels like.
Are you writing music as well as relaxing?
I’m constantly writing at the moment. I’ve had a few remixes commissioned lately and there’s a few collaborations lined up too. I’m still working with the likes of Brian G and Marky as well so there’s always stuff going on. I’m collaborating with my wife quite a bit; she’s featured on a few of my tracks in the past and is an awesome vocalist. The only thing that stinks about our collaborations is that the ‘vocal booth’ is in fact a closet in a bedroom which can get pretty hot! We could definitely do with some air-con in there…
This year has been pretty busy for you, right?
Yeah it’s been pretty hectic, but pretty good. The Sleazy Bitch EP did well and continues to do well and I’ve got another EP that’s gonna come out on Innerground in a few months. I also spent a lot of time mixing the Liquid V compilation, making sure it was spot on. There was the Ruffled Feathers EP too. Me and my buddy Mixmaster Doc wrote those songs six years ago if you can believe that! That’s just how things go sometimes…
So you could say you’re not the best at finishing a track?
Haha, yeah you could say that! I’ve got a pretty bad habit of getting a song to what I consider to be 98% done and then leaving it because I don’t quite like the way it’s going. I’m really picky and particular; if I can’t find the right sound for the tune then it just dies. It fucking sucks! I can spend 35 hours on a tune and then just go off it completely. I thought that with my knowledge and experience I wouldn’t take so long to finish a track but if anything it gets longer each time.
You must have seen a lot of changes in the genre since starting out. What’s been the biggest?
The technology now is majorly different to how it was back when I started. If you didn’t have 40 grand to throw at some decent equipment back then, you were kind of screwed, but now all you need is one bit of software and you’re good to go. I think that’s both a beautiful and a sad thing; a lot of the awesomeness of the art-form is going to get lost over the next 20 years, mark my words. It sounds pessimistic but I think we’re going to hear a lot of throwaway garbage.
Crikey, what’s to blame for that?
There seems to be a cheapening of the industry as a whole; the price of music has fallen due to the rise of download websites and the cost of musical equipment has also gone way down because there’s a rise in the number of people producing music in their bedrooms who want something they can pick up cheap. Then there’s guys like me that want the good equipment but don’t have the money for it, so we’re forced into going for the cheaper stuff too. There’s definitely an imbalance developing. People can download a sequencer on Pirate Bay and have a tune done within a week, it’s crazy. Let’s just say there’s gonna be a lot more folks trying to do the same thing I’m doing.
So how are you going to stay at the top of your game with these changes?
The way I’m going to stay at the top of my game is that I’m not, and that’s fact. As quickly as a rocket ship blasts into space, just as quickly it will fall back down again. That’s the nature of music and art and I accept it. I’m always going to do what I do, I don’t care where I’m standing in the food-chain, I just keep my head down and I write music. I don’t give a shit about anyone else and I don’t care what other producers are doing around me. If you look at it in that way, it stops being an art-form and starts becoming more of a commodity. I feel like so much of it has become commoditised and commercialised these days; it’s the entertainment industry now, not the music industry. It’s really disappointing but it’s reality.
What about the scene in America though – that seems to be improving all the time?
I’ve seen it really grow in the last few years which is awesome, and it’s going to continue to do so. I played at a tiny little club a few weeks ago and the place was packed with people having a great time. That just wouldn’t have happened a few years back. Drum & bass went through some horrible growing pains in America about six or seven years ago; so many promoters threw in the towel because they weren’t making any money, but now it’s a lot healthier.
And what do you think is to thank for this rise in the American drum & bass scene?
People like to say very negative things about dubstep and other various genres that have popped up but I think it’s laughable how people get upset about it. When it exploded over here about four or five years ago, I’ve only seen the crowds get bigger at drum & bass nights, so I don’t see the problem. That’s not the only thing that has caused drum & bass to take off over here, it also helps that people have started to do their shit a lot better! If you listen to American drum & bass from around 15 years ago it sounds f**king horrendous, especially if you compare it to today’s music.
How about you… Have you been working on an album? Can we expect one from you in the near future?
I had ten or so tracks that I thought about making into an album, but it seemed a bit rushed and not very thought through, so nothing came of it in the end. Next year I want to really focus on doing an album properly and do something a bit more conceptual with a theme to it. For now I’m just going to continue to write music the way I am and if I come up with something that’s album worthy I’ll take it from there.
If you listen to American drum & bass from around 15 years ago it sounds f**king horrendous, especially if you compare it to today’s music.
You’ve stayed true to your beliefs from the beginning – have you ever been tempted to stray away from it?
I understand that some producers want to earn as much money as possible by writing a certain style of music, but that’s not me. If a label comes to me and asks me to write a certain kind of tune, they can f*ck off! I’m not here to wear their suit; I’m here to make music the way I want to make music.
And would you say you’re more of a producer or a DJ?
I far prefer producing to DJing. I get a big kick out of playing because it’s fun and you get to drink while you do it, but I’m a bit of an introvert; I tend to keep to myself. My focus has always been my production and it’ll always stay that way. Random Movement was originally a two-person project; I produced and the other person played the shows, but when we went our separate ways I had a load of shows lined up that I didn’t know how to play, so I learnt pretty quickly.
Liquid V Summer Vibes, mixed by Random Movement is out now: Support